Bite Me Excerpt
Unable to resolve how her life had come to this, Livy ended up where she felt most comfortable in her office—under her desk. It was a small space under there because of the desk drawers, so it gave her the illusion of being in a nice burrow.
And that’s where Livy stayed until the smell of roses, lilies, and some other annoying flowers filled her sensitive nostrils.
She tried to ignore the smell but it kept getting more potent as someone moved in and out of her office. Repeatedly.
She sniffed the air, trying to ignore the flowers and center on the person.
Vic. It was Vic in her office. With flowers.
Confused and curious, Livy quietly crawled out from under the desk and peeked around the corner of it to see Vic Barinov bringing in another giant flower display as well as a large fruit basket.
Getting to her knees, Livy asked, “What are you doing?”
Vic stopped and looked at her. “Were you under the desk?”
“Are you always under the desk?”
He shrugged, walked out, came back with another basket. This time filled with an array of cookies.
“We couldn’t agree.”
“Who couldn’t agree…what?”
“It’s Shen’s fault,” he complained, which really didn’t answer her question.
“First he said, you wouldn’t want flowers. Then today, he thought you might, although he had no empirical proof regarding the veracity of that belief.”
“Right. So I brought you flowers. And cookies.” He walked out of her office. “I also,” he said from the hallway, “got you a plant.” And he came in with a five-foot-tall standing plant that he put in a corner. Christ, Livy was only five-one.
“And,” he said, gesturing at two other baskets, “food.” He pointed at one basket. “Nuts and fruits, nuts being the emphasis of the overall basket.” He pointed at the other. “Fruits and nuts, with fruits being the emphasis.” Went back into the hallway and came in with another basket. “And meats and fish.”
He placed the baskets in front of her desk.
“And”—he walked out again and quickly returned with one more basket—“honey. European and American. They didn’t have any African bee honey.”
Glancing around the room, he finally settled on placing that basket beside the standing plant.
Resting back on her heels, Livy asked, “Why?”
“Why are you bringing me anything?”
“It’s what people do when a friend suffers a loss.”
“I just bought you all these baskets, so we better be.”
Vic had always found Livy…unusual. But why was she hiding under her desk? That seemed weird. Even for her.
Even worse, when he suggested they were friends, she just stared blankly at him. It kind of hurt his feelings.
“I brought you honey. You could at least pretend we’re friends.”
“Yeah. We’re friends. Just don’t know why you felt the need to buy me baskets of…stuff.”
“Because that’s what people do, Livy. It’s called empathy.”
“I’ve heard the word.”
Vic rolled his eyes. “Look, Livy, I know you’re this great photographer but—”
“Oh, yeah,” she suddenly cut in. “Great wedding photographer, maybe.”
Livy shook her head. “Forget it.”
“Livy, what’s going on with you?”
“Nothing.” She suddenly dropped down and crawled back under her desk.
Vic, not sure how to deal with this side of Livy, walked around her desk and crouched down so he could see her.
“Do you want to go somewhere and talk?” he asked.
“Because I’m so chatty?”
“No. But I understand that after the loss of a parent—”
“We weren’t close.”
“As you’ve already said. Still, we could go get some coffee.” He glanced at his watch. “Maybe get lunch.”
“You asking me out on a date?”
Without thinking, Vic leaned back a bit. “No.”
“You don’t have to look so horrified.”
“It’s not horror. It’s confusion. You’re confusing me. Which,” when he thought about it, “may lead to horror. But I simply don’t like being confused. So the horror wasn’t directed at you, so much as the confusion.”
“Well, when you put it like that…”